Each week, our “What’s on Tap” series previews the week ahead in the world of sports betting. Come here for a summary of upcoming financial happenings, legislative and regulatory meetings, industry conferences, top games scheduled for the week, and much more. Also, check out our weekly review “Get a Grip” for a look back at last week’s notable news.
Tuesday, January 24
Massachusetts meeting on sports event wagering catalog
Last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission amended several proposed sports betting regulations as the launch of retail sports wagering nears at the end of the month. While the MGC tabled discussion Friday on an expansive sports wagering catalog, the commission is expected to approve which events can be bet on at Tuesday’s meeting. When the catalog receives approval, the MGC is expected to ban wagers on the Super Bowl coin toss.
Saturday, January 28
Lackluster field expected for Pegasus World Cup
Since its inception in 2017, the Pegasus World Cup has boasted an impressive list of champions headlined by Eclipse Award winners Arrogate, Gun Runner, and Knicks Go. By comparison, this year’s edition of the Pegasus lacks considerable luster versus previous versions of the Grade I race.
Trainer Brad Cox, who won the 2021 Pegasus with Knicks Go, will saddle the 5/2 favorite in Cyberknife. In addition to winning the Haskell Stakes last year, Cyberknife notched runner-up finishes in the Travers Stakes and Pennsylvania Derby in a successful campaign as a 3-year-old. Cyberknife will be tested by Clark Handicap winner Proxy and Awesome Again champion Defunded. The $3 million Pegasus World Cup is the featured race on a packed card at Gulfstream Park, with seven graded stakes.
Rybakina looks to win first Aussie Open trophy
After top seed Iga Swiatek’s shocking loss to Elena Rybakina at the Australian Open, the women’s draw is wide open in Melbourne. Swiatek, the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament, fell in straight sets to Rybakina, the defending Wimbledon champion. Entering the tournament, DraftKings bettors picked Rybakina to win the Australian Open on only 3% of all tickets.
With the win over Swiatek, Rybakina saw her futures odds fall to +275. Rybakina, 23, has made just one Grand Slam semifinal in her professional career. As of Monday, she remained the second choice at DraftKings to win the Aussie Open behind favorite Aryna Sabalenka (+200).
Ice in her veins. ❄️
Elena Rybakina takes out the World No.1 in straight sets! #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/Lb0M2s9nhb
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) January 22, 2023
Rybakina needs two more wins this week to reach Saturday’s women’s singles final. Rybakina will need to defeat Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals, then either Jessica Pegula or Victoria Azarenka in the semis. In search of her first grand slam singles title, Pegula is the third choice at +300.
Sunday, January 29
Djokovic seeks record 10th Aussie Open singles title
Riddled by injury, the Australian Open men’s draw lost a number of prominent players through the first week. Hampered by a hip injury, top seed Rafael Nadal bowed out to Mackenzie McDonald of the U.S. in the second round. Other favorites, ranging from Casper Ruud to Daniil Medvedev and Frances Tiafoe to Felix Auger-Aliassime, were eliminated in Week 1.
As a result, the draw has opened up for Novak Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion. But Djokovic is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury himself. However, he declared himself “injury free” after crushing Alex DeMinaur in straight sets on Monday.
Djokovic remains the heavy favorite to win the tournament at -215, far ahead of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Sebastian Korda, who have odds of +410 and +1000, respectively. FanDuel also gives bettors the option of predicting the two finalists, with a Djokovic-Tsitsipas matchup the overwhelming choice.
Top seeds Chiefs, Eagles eye trips to Super Bowl
The Bengals manhandled the Bills on Sunday in snowy Buffalo, setting up a rematch against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. Last year, the Bengals erased a 21-3 deficit in an overtime win over the Chiefs to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs, meanwhile, defeated the Jaguars on Saturday to qualify for the AFC Championship for the fifth straight year. Kansas City is a 1-point favorite at home Sunday over Cincinnati at Caesars Sportsbook, where the total is 47.5.
The Eagles, meanwhile, will host the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. Philadelphia is coming off a dominant 38-7 win over the Giants on Saturday, on a night when the Eagles gained 268 yards on the ground. The 49ers outlasted the Cowboys 19-12 on Sunday to reach the NFC Championship for the fourth time in five years. Philadelphia opened as a 2.5-point favorite; the total is 45.5.
The future is now in the NFC.
Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts will have a combined age of 47 years, 208 days on Sunday, the youngest combined age between starting QBs in a Conference Championship Game. pic.twitter.com/GOZXcFlYGD
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 23, 2023
There are no sleepers left in the playoffs. The Eagles and the Chiefs are the co-favorites at BetMGM with odds of +260. The Bengals, the defending AFC champs, are the third choice at +270. The 49ers, the longest shot on the board, still have relatively short odds at +310.
Key injuries and lineup uncertainties heading into Sunday:
- Patrick Mahomes insists that he will start in Sunday’s AFC Championship despite suffering a high ankle sprain against the Jags. CBS Sports analyst Tony Romo said on Sunday that it is difficult to envision Mahomes playing at 100% against the Bengals, but that a physically challenged Mahomes is still the best pocket passer in the league.
- Jalen Hurts appeared mostly unaffected in the divisional round win over the Giants by the shoulder injury he suffered last month. Hurts will face one of the league’s top defenses on Sunday in the Niners.
- Two starting Bengals offensive linemen, Alex Cappa and Jonah Williams, missed Sunday’s win over the Bills. Cappa, the Bengals’ starting right guard, appeared on the sidelines in Buffalo with his foot in a walking boot. The Bengals did not have an update on either lineman following Sunday’s win. A third Bengals starter, tackle La’el Collins, is already out for the season.
Have a good week, everyone!